Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Money Can’t Buy Happiness…

…at least not always, anyway.  Or intelligence or sanity.  This observation after reading the newspapers back home in California lately about the whole Donald Sterling affair.

For anyone who hasn’t been following the story, Sterling is the owners of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, who made disparaging remarks a few weeks ago about black people in general and basketball legend Magic Johnson in particular.

After those comments became public, the ensuing firestorm resulted in him being banned from the NBA and most likely he will be forced to sell the team.  This week he went on CNN to apologize.  He did so by making more disparaging remarks about black people in general and Magic Johnson in particular.  This guy just doesn’t know when to shut up.

Obviously Sterling is insensitive, ignorant and out of his mind.  That much has been widely discussed and agreed upon by just about everyone on the planet.  Another side to the story that strikes me, however, is that here is a guy worth nearly $2 billion, yet at the moment anyway, he seems to be one of the most miserable SOB’s around.

Sterling’s wife has apparently abandoned him.  Likewise his “friend,” the attractive woman he used to take to the games that released the recording in the first place.  His beloved team is in the process of being stripped away.  Even PR firms are refusing to take him on as a client.  It makes me wonder who the guy has to hang out with at all anymore.  I picture him sitting on a couch in some big fancy mansion, completely alone and despised.

This all reminds me of another story of a miserable eccentric millionaire from Los Angeles.  Back in the 1980’s, Georges Marciano rose to fame and fortune with his name brand clothing company, Guess.  As everybody knows, it was a huge success and he became very wealthy. 

Also somewhat paranoid.  He thought numerous former employees were stealing his money.  Marciano went after them in court with great zeal, spending millions of dollars and going through 17 different law firms. 

The charges were baseless and the figures minor in the grand scheme of things, but the issue consumed him, robbing his life of joy.  At one point Marciano’s assets were valued at $360 million.  But then his employees counter-sued, and won, leading to an original judgment against him of $425 million (later reduced to $260 mil).  Long story short, Marciano is now bankrupt.

There are plenty of other examples of very wealthy people who are unhappy.  I wonder sometimes about Donald Trump.  Is he happy?  That blathering blowhard of birtherdom?  Maybe so, but that doesn’t make him any less an idiot, forever craving the spotlight.

In any case, it is good to remember sometimes for the rest of us as we chase after our own material gain, hamsters forever running in the wheel of consumerism, that money isn’t what life is all about.  You can have billions of dollars and still be miserable.

Or you can be flat broke yet have your friends and your family and perhaps a sunny afternoon in spring to do with what you like.  Those are the things, after all, that really make life worth living.

1 comment:

  1. What an astute and entertaining post, Kenneth. I haven't heard of any of those people except for Donald Trump - perhaps as his golfing pursuits are widely discussed in Scotland. I totally agree - the more people have materially the more they have to worry about. It's the wee things that make us happy :)